Undergraduate FAQ & Policies

Major/ Minor FAQ

How do I declare a Sociology minor/major?

You should initiate the declaration process in WebSTAC. Once you’ve completed that process, our Sociology academic coordinator, Kaitlyne Motl, will contact you via email to complete a brief survey, then set up an appointment to meet with her to finalize your faculty advisor assignment. You will then schedule an initial meeting with your advisor to discuss your course choices and other plans.

How do I pick a sociology major/minor advisor?

Advisors are assigned based on your own stated preferences. When declaring your major/minor on WebSTAC and during your initial meeting with our academic coordinator, you will have the opportunity to request a specific advisor. While not a requirement, many students prefer to work with an advisor with whom they have established a relationship through prior courses. In other cases, you may prefer to be paired with an advisor who shares your specific interest areas within the overall field. Our academic coordinator, Kaitlyne Motl and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Hedwig (Hedy) Lee are both happy to discuss possibilities and provide advice along these lines. Please note that you are always able to switch advisors if you find that a different faculty member better matches your developing interests or activities. In those cases, please schedule a meeting with our academic coordinator to discuss and finalize any changes in advisor assignments. Feel free to read through the faculty bios on the Sociology Department website to become familiar with potential advisors.

What sorts of careers does one pursue with a major in Sociology?

Sociology opens doors to careers in law, education, policy research, non-profit and business management, and so many other paths. Our academic coordinator and your advisor would be happy to have more detailed conversations about how you can link your specific interests in Sociology to satisfying career opportunities. We also encourage you to check out the American Sociological Association’s career-based resources for Sociology majors.

Honors in Sociology (Latin honors)

To be eligible for Latin Honors, the student must have maintained a 3.65 GPA through their sixth semester and must be approved by the Academic Coordinator or Director of Undergraduate studies. Latin Honors indicates that you have earned top grades and will complete a substantial research project. Students interested in the opportunity to conduct research on a topic of their choosing, and whose grades satisfy the criteria for Latin honors established by the College of Arts & Sciences may elect to undertake a sociology honors thesis. Completion of an honors thesis is the only path to Latin honors for Sociology majors.

Thesis projects can vary in scope, but typically involve original sociological research presented in the format and length of a conventional academic article – i.e. 30-40 pages of text, references, and figures. We strongly recommend that students considering a thesis speak with their department advisor and/or other Sociology faculty members about their ideas as early as possible so that they are ready to hit the ground running, ideally prior to the beginning of their senior year.

Students who will write an honors thesis should register for SOC 4901: Sociology Honors Thesis (3 credits) in the fall semester of their senior year and the SOC 4900: Capstone Paper for Sociology Majors course (3 credits) in the spring. Students who opt for the thesis capstone option can apply three of their thesis credits (those associated with SOC 4901) toward their upper-level major requirement, meaning that – in addition to their thesis project – they would only need to complete four (rather than five) additional 300/400-level seminar courses. To receive departmental approval to register for these courses, students must:

(1) Satisfy the College GPA requirement for admission to Latin honors, now set at 3.65 through six semesters;

(2) Identify a department faculty member who has approved the content and scope of the thesis and is willing to serve as the student’s thesis advisor. (Note that this advisor can be – but does not have to be – the student’s department academic advisor); and,

(3) Complete the following prerequisites: SOC 3030: Introduction to Research Methods, SOC 3001: Social Theory, and SOC 3050: Statistics for Sociology.  

Prior to completing the thesis project, the student additionally will consult with their thesis advisor to identify a thesis reader. The reader may be another faculty member in the department or a member of the regular teaching staff (including postdoctoral fellows and adjunct faculty with on-going appointments).

After completion of the written thesis, each honors student will give a brief presentation (10 - 15 minutes, followed by Q&A) summarizing their research, to be attended by the advisor, their reader, and other interested members of the department. The advisor and reader will meet to determine if the student’s work meets the department’s standards to be recommended for honors. In the case of a favorable recommendation, the level of Latin honors conferred (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude) will be determined by the student’s grades through seven semesters, and in accordance with guidelines established by the College of Arts & Sciences, following these proportions: The top 15 percent in overall GPA of the full cohort of Latin Honors candidates who complete the necessary requirements of their major requirements will graduate summa cum laude; the next 35 percent magna cum laude; and the next 50 percent cum laude.

*Research that involves conducting interviews, surveys, or specific kinds of observational data will include “human subjects.” Prior to initiating their research, students must receive approval from Washington University’s Institutional Review Board. For an overview of the University’s IRB process,  please refer to:  https://hrpo.wustl.edu/research-toolkit/2018-common-rule/

Beyond the Classroom

Study Abroad

Over time, the Sociology department will develop a list of specific programs that we recommend for students with particular interests in the discipline. We advise students to select an abroad program primarily based on broader considerations, such as program location and format. You may find School for International Training (SIT)-sponsored programs to be especially strong options if you value immersion in local communities and experiential research opportunities above a more conventional campus-based experience. You can find a range of university study abroad resources through the Overseas Programs office.

In general, we are willing to consider a wide range of study abroad program and course options for major and minor credit. For a more definite sense of possibilities along these lines, please schedule a meeting with your Sociology Advisor and/or the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Hedwig (Hedy) Lee, to discuss whether particular programs and courses meet basic requirements for major/minor credit. While obtaining departmental approval for your Study Plan is a required step in the University’s study abroad application process, we recommend that you initiate conversations with your advisor much earlier as you consider different location and program options.

Teaching and/or Research Experience

We are currently compiling databases of students who would like to be considered for available Course Assistantships in a range of departmental class offerings and Research Assistantships on faculty-led projects. These positions are compensated through course credit and/or an hourly wage. To join either or both databases, just fill out the brief survey available via our Course Assistantship and Research Assistantship portals.

Honorary Society

Washington University’s Sociology Department has reactivated its membership – first established in 1933 – as Missouri’s Beta chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociology Honor Society. Founded in 1920 to “acknowledge and promote excellence in scholarship in the study of sociology, the research of social problems, and such other social and intellectual activities as will lead to improvement in the human condition,” AKD provides an outlet to recognize and further the accomplishments of our Sociology students. Instituted both as a registered student group (“sociology club”) and an honorary association for outstanding juniors and seniors in the department, AKD serves as a hub for students to propose and organize a range of department-sponsored social and professional activities.  For more details on how to join, please reach out to our academic coordinator.

Departmental Policies & Procedures

Transferring credit

Students may transfer courses from a domestic study program (i.e., another four-year institution in the U.S.) or an approved study abroad program. Transfer credits can account for major or minor requirements.

Majors are eligible to transfer two courses to fulfill either:  A) one introductory-level course and one upper-level course or B) two upper-level courses. Minors are eligible to transfer one course to fulfill one introductory-level course or one upper-level course. 

Please note that student options for using transfer credit to fulfill core requirements is limited to SOC 3050: Statistics for Sociology. Both SOC 3030: Introduction to Research Methods and SOC 3001: Social Theory must be taken in Washington University’s Sociology Department.

Students interested in receiving credit for courses taught outside the department should submit a ‘Petition to Cross-list Courses’ which can be found here. Please note you will be prompted to upload a copy of the syllabus for the course you are petitioning to take. Please submit your petition before the start date of the class you are requesting to take. After you have submitted your petition, inform the academic coordinator that you have submitted your request. The academic coordinator will ensure that your petition is reviewed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Undergraduate Committee. Course approval is contingent on an evaluation of the proposed course description and syllabus. You will receive an email from the academic coordinator related to the outcome of your submitted petition. Students with unusual circumstances, such as transferring credit from another institution, should contact the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, Hedwig (Hedy) Lee, to discuss possible exceptions to the general policies discussed in this guide.